Rock painting is a fun activity for children and for adults. While you might think that the artistic “merit” of rock painting is relatively low, you might be surprised at just how impressive some rock art is.
Pretty much anything can be turned into art with enough dedication, skill, and tools. You’ve heard of art-rock, now it’s time for rock art!
In this guide, we are looking into the best pens for rock painting. It takes a certain type of pen to create a design that won’t smudge but will leave a lasting impression on the rock.
Why Rock Painting?
It’s not just a fun activity for children to get involved in. There are some incredible examples of rock art. Landscapes, portraits and impressive patterns including Mandala patterns can be drawn on rocks.
Check out this beautiful rock painting on Instagram. Proof that rocks can be a beautiful medium.
Rock paintings can make incredible gifts, an activity for art workshops, or just a way to experiment with a new format for your art. Of course, fun activities for the kids shouldn’t be ignored, check out the simple alphabet idea here.
Why Use Pens for Rock Painting?
You don’t have to use pens for rock painting. If you want to, you can use paints, chalks or other formats. Pens give a level of control that you might not get from paintbrushes on the unusual textures of rocks.
Pens give you many different options. We’re not just talking about biro pens here. A lot of the options that you will find recommended as best for rocks use gel, chalk, and paint. Acrylic paint-based pens are a good option.
Even if you do plan to experiment with using traditional paints on rocks, pens can also be helpful for outlining or adding detail, which can otherwise be very difficult.
Also, if you are rock painting with kids, you will also be very thankful for using pens as they can cause a lot less mess (don’t forget to put newspaper down, either way).
Where to Source Rocks for Painting
A lot of people go for the convenience of buying rocks online. Pre-selected rocks are smooth enough for art, and can save you the hassle of having to find your own. It can be surprisingly tough to find enough rocks which are suitable in terms of size and shape. There’s nothing wrong with getting rocks from Amazon if you need to. Rocks with a relatively flat, smooth surface are best.
Buying rocks from the internet might seem like an unnatural thing to do. You can, of course, source the rocks locally (just make sure you have permission to take them). You might even have suitable rocks in your yard. If you are using rock art as a craft activity with kids, you can turn the rock “hunt” into a part of the activity.
The Best Paint Pens for Rock Painting – Reviewed
Pedy 22 Colors Paint Marker Pens – Best Overall
The requirements for marker pens are relatively simple for rock painting. The Pedy 22 colors option is a great option for most people who want to get started.
The tips of these pens are medium, so might not be the best for fine detailing. They serve as good “all-rounders” so you can write with them, or fill in larger blocks of color.
The Pedy pens come in 22 different colors so that you can ensure you have plenty of options. To use them, you just need to shake beforehand and ensure the acrylic paint within is flowing. They have a quick-dry function, which means that they easily
- Lots of color options.
- Medium tip size means you can fill large areas.
- These pens will dry out if the cap isn’t put on properly.
- Not ideal for detailing.
You might need to get a couple of different sizes of pens if you want to get really into rock painting, but for an all-rounder, or to get you started, the Pedy pens are a great idea.
Artistro Bundle – Extra-Fine Tip Pens and Acrylic Markers – Best Pens for Detailing
If you need to create some fine details, such as outlines for portraits or even shading, you might want to consider the Artistro Paint Pens Bundle. This comes with two sets of markers.
There are 12 extra-fine tip pens which include the vital black pen, all of these are good for outlines and details. These tips are 0.7mm in size.
There is also a 15 “special colors” bundle. This has some amazing acrylic pens including gold and silver effects to open up new rock painting possibilities.
A lot of rock artists are just working with a few inches as their “canvas” so having ultra-fine pens to cover those difficult areas can be a big bonus. The vivid ink means they dry quickly, so you don’t have to spend ages waiting or worrying about smudging the design.
The bundle means these pens are also great value. You effectively get two sets of rock pens for the price of one.
Arteza Acrylic Paint Markers – Best Paint Markers for Rocks With Replaceable Tips
Arteza is a pretty fantastic brand for all kinds of art and rock painting supplies. Their acrylic paint markers are not ultra-fine, but they do a good job both for detail and larger areas being used on rocks.
What is the point in replaceable tips? Well, if the tip becomes dried out and you find that you cannot use the pen, there may still be ink inside ready for use. This means that throwing out the pen wastes that ink.
Arteza’s paint markers for rocks and textiles means you can use the markers until the nib needs to be replaced and then use the included tweezers to replace it and keep using the marker.
On top of this, the pens are UV-resistant and dry quickly. They’re non-toxic and very versatile for your rock artwork. We also like the fact that the colors are particularly vibrant.
Sharpie Oil Based Paint Markers – Best Sharpies for Rock Painting
These pens are actually oil-based rather than acrylic, like most of the rock paints above. This helps with the quick-dry capabilities and also keeps the colors and design vibrant for a number of years after your rock masterpiece is complete.
The high contrast colors and excellent reliability of the Sharpies make them a good item to have around the house anyway, and you can make extra use of them by creating incredible rock art.
Every type of pen or paint for rock painting has its pros and cons, of course. In the case of the Sharpie…
- Long-lasting and vibrant colors.
- Can be used to write on almost any surface.
- Not available in as many colors as some alternatives.
- More expensive than some of the other pens on the market.
We can’t fault the Sharpie pens for quality, but if you want a variety of colors then there might be better value out there.
Uni-Ball Gel Impact UM-153 White – Best for White Designs
Simple white designs often look fantastic on rocks. You might want to build up layers such as an intricate mandala pattern. The fantastic Uni-Ball gel pen range can be amazing for this. The gel might take a little bit longer to dry than some of the others, but it is very good for detail and for outlining.
The Gel Impact models linked to here have a 1.0mm rollerball design. They simply and easily glide along the rock surface.
For some fantastic examples of rock painting using these pens, you can check out the reviews section of Amazon, where plenty of people have uploaded pictures of these in action. You can use the Uni-Ball Gel Impact pens in conjunction with other acrylic pens, too.
Other Rock Painting Supplies
What else do you need if you plan to get started with rock painting? Pens (or paints) and rocks are obvious, but there are a couple of other things you might find really helpful.
Lots of newspaper, or a protective cover for your table. You do not want to get acrylic or any other type of ink or paint on a wooden table. Acrylic is what is actually used for a permanent finish on wood.
A sealant. Once your design is finished, a sealant can help…well…seal the design in. If you have used acrylic pens, this sealant can do a great job on your rocks and protect the design for years to come.
Stencils. This isn’t essential, but some people like to work from stencils to create a reliable design. There are even stencils you can find and print online.
Rock Painting Ideas
So you have got your supplies, and it is time to have a go at painting rocks. You might already have an idea of the design you want to create in your head, or you might need some inspiration.
The good news? There are so many places you can find inspiration for rock painting. This Pinterest board has over 180,000 followers as I write this. You can see that there is quite an exciting community around rock painting and artwork.
The video below from Carter Sams has some great ideas as she tries rock painting for the very first time. She even uses some of the pens we’ve mentioned in this list.
We also have to share Rachel’s Rocks Canada, a YouTube Channel for more incredible ideas. Check out this adorable panda:
Rachel’s rocks is an amazing channel for learning how to create genuine art projects using one of nature’s great resources…rocks!
Trying to create excellent art using rocks can be difficult if you do not have the right tools. Arguably the most important of all of these tools is the pens you use. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune either, as most gel, acrylic and oil-paints for rocks are relatively inexpensive.
We hope our guide has been helpful, and if you have any other options you think people would enjoy, feel free to drop us a line or use the comment section below to share your rock art experiences.